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6 September, 2020

Training parents to cope with cyberbullies

In 1839, English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” As true as it was then, it unfortunately is so true today.

By Peter McCullagh

Free online training aimed at adults with children or young people at risk of, or who are already the target of cyberbullies

Bulwer-Lytton could never have imagined a world as we have it today. A world where the written word is so freely spread and virtually every global citizen has access to write what they like, when they like and have it ‘published’ on platforms that have the ability to amplify and broadcast the message to millions in seconds.

A world where checks and balances and responsible management of the written word is difficult; due to technology and resources.

Welcome to the digital era, the age where our opinions are broadcast and our sense of outrage and ability to strike back is unfettered.

Lady Gaga calls social media “the toilet of the internet”. When social media is used correctly it is powerfully good. The family and friends of Toyah Cordingley rallied an Australia-wide campaign to forever remember Toyah and bring whoever was responsible for her murder to justice.

For every great example there are multiple examples of social and digital media used for the purpose of pulling people down and inflicting grievous harm to them.

Parents and carers have new tools to help pull the plug on cyberbullying with $440,000 from the Queensland Government.

Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said free access was now available to online cyberbullying training and eResources from Parentline and yourtown.

“This is online training aimed at adults with children or young people at risk of, or who are already the target of cyberbullies,” Ms Farmer said. 

“We know cyberbullying is as insidious and as it is prevalent.

“It’s distressing that more than half of young Australians report they’ve experienced psychological distress from cyberbullying on social media and online chat sites.

“The Premier has urged social media platforms to be part of the solution and work harder to help create a safer online environment.

“But, social media platforms and easily to use privacy settings are just one part of the picture; parents and carers also owe it to their children to keep them safe in cyberspace.

“As a parent myself, I know how hard it can be to have the conversations we should have with our teenagers about cyber safety and appropriate online behaviour.

“That’s where online cyberbullying training and eResources from Parentline and yourtown can help to arm parents and carers with the information you need to know about internet bullies and how they operate.”

Tracy Adams CEO of yourtown welcomed the Palaszczuk Government’s funding.

“Not only has it helped us to develop training and eResources, we’ve also employed a cyberbullying consultant to provide advice to communities across Queensland,” Ms Adams said.

“Parentline has also developed training for all our counsellors so we can deliver parent and carer support by phone, web chat or email.

“Our training was developed with the support and expert knowledge of the eSafety Commissioner and we are working with health and education community networks to ensure copies of the eResources are available publicly, or on request.” 

Ms Farmer said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to supporting parents, carers and young people with the skills and knowledge to beat cyberbullying.

“No one wants their child to be the victim of cyberbullying, nor the instigator of cruel, nasty and harmful online behaviour,” Ms Farmer said.

“Bullying isn’t acceptable in the playground and it shouldn’t be tolerated online either.

“As Queenslanders, we all have a responsibility to make a stand against bullying regardless of whether it occurs in the real or virtual worlds.”  

Last year more than 83,500 users accessed Parentline’s website to gain the tools to beat cyberbullying.

To connect with Parentline’s cyberbullying training and eResources go to: https://parentline.com.au/cyberbullying

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